Faithfulness

Every Sunday afternoon, I would rush into church, typically with one child hanging off of me, another sprinting ahead, and one more holding my hand, trying to break free. I’d rush over to the computers to print my children’s name tags, hating that I was always late, trying to contain the three that wanted to take off as soon as I let go.

Mr. Michael witnessed this routine every week, and, eventually, he began to look for us. As Caleb walked with me hand-in-hand to the four-year-old room, Mr. Michael would open the door to take him from me before I even had him signed in. And when I’d pick up the pen to write Caleb’s name, it was already there.

Every week, like clockwork.

When Matt stepped down from leading the tech team so that I could try going to church without arriving in a bad mood, we decided to go to the 9:00 service instead of the one I had been attending at 12:30 (and, yes, I was still late every week when I went at 12:30). When we first made the decision, I was reluctant to give up the afternoon service. After all, Caleb wouldn’t have Mr. Michael as a teacher, anymore.

Normally, Caleb looked forward to church, but there were those occasions when he cried. But Mr. Michael had the key to Caleb’s heart–he’d whip out his phone and let Caleb play games until it was time for the kids to put away the toys and learn the lesson. Caleb expected Mr. Michael every week, and I took comfort in the fact that every week at least one of the volunteers was the same, someone who was actually growing to love and care for my son.

And then my admiration for Mr. Michael grew. That first Sunday that we attended the 9:00 service and walked up to the four-year-old class, who was there to meet us? None other but Mr. Michael.

Yes, there are many individuals who volunteer every Sunday, giving their hearts and time to our precious children. For all of them, I am so thankful. Crouching down on the floor with a bunch of preschoolers every week, dealing with crying and elusive attention spans from toddlers, changing poopie diapers so that Daddy and Mommy can attend church–these men and women truly are special people.

Yes, there are many individuals who volunteer every Sunday…

…but not many are only 17.

I remember when I was 17. I was a good kid, and I loved to help others, but you wouldn’t find me arriving early for a 9:00 service so that I could care for kids every week. And you definitely wouldn’t find me spending my entire Sunday at church, volunteering for two services and attending a third. I wasn’t immune to the narcissism that tends to run through the veins of many teenagers.

But, apparently, Mr. Michael is.

The other day, as I was rounding the corner of the Chick-Fil-A drive thru, I saw a young man coming out the back doors with a huge trash can heading for the dumpster. It was Michael.

“Hi, Michael!” I yelled through my open window. “I didn’t realize you worked here!”

“Hi! Who else do you have in there?” he asked smiling, trying to peer through the windows to see what kids filled the car seats.

“Just Chloe. Caleb and Hannah Grace are in preschool.” “You know,” I went on to add, “Caleb is really going to miss you. We just started attending the Saturday night service.”

Michael went on to explain that he actually wasn’t helping anymore. He had started working with another church plant in the community. But he promised he’d visit one Saturday night to see Caleb.

As a teenager, Michael had probably spent more hours volunteering in church, sharing his time, effort, and heart for the glory of God, than most adults. And now he was helping with a church-plant in the hopes of teaching another community about the love of Jesus.

I’m so proud of him, but, selfishly, I wish I were going to see him every weekend, walking alongside us as we teach Caleb our faith. But I realize that just as I’m watching my own son grow, over the past two or so years I’ve watched Michael grow from a teenage boy of 17 into a young man. And this young man’s path is taking him in another direction.

As I’ve walked my own journey, I’ve learned that many people have great intentions but few follow through. Witnessing the faithful example of Michael has been refreshing, and he’s shown me that when a heart is turned toward God and filled with His love, commitment to His work is a natural result.

Michael during Superhero Sunday

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23, New International Version, 2010). Emphasis mine

JourneysWhat examples of faithfulness have you witnessed in others? How have you seen the Spirit of God working in young people in your own church?

I’d love for you to join me in this week’s journey on ‘faithfulness.’ If you have a post that relates to this topic, enter the link below. Thanks for joining me this week!

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6 thoughts on “Faithfulness

  1. This is a beautiful example of faith and faithfulness. I hope Michael has the opportunity to read the praise you have written of him. Sometimes that pat on the shoulder is needed esp. when we feel worn out. Good job, Michael!

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    1. I asked his permission first and sent him the link, so he'd better read it! 😉 He really has such an amazing servant-heart.

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  2. Jennifer,

    Your thoughts bring me back to the dreaded church mornings with Davis, when he was younger. As I would dress him and get myself ready on Sunday mornings, I would find myself thinking and dreading the inevitable crying and screaming that he would display as we walked toward the nursery door. He would wrap his arms around my neck and repeat the word, “NO”. As a first time Mom, I would join him in his tears, after all, it was difficult for me to separate from him, just as it was he from me.
    There was a 16 year old girl at church, her name was Stephanie, and she caught Davis’ eye. At first, Stephanie worked the nursery every other week, but, once she realized that she could comfort Davis, she was a weekly regular. After a few weeks, Davis would hold his arms out for Miss Stephanie, which gave me great comfort in leaving him with her. As Davis got older, Miss Stephanie would move up to the next class with him.
    As the years passed, we left to attend a different church. We will occassionally bump into Miss Stephanie, who is now married, and she and I will reminise about the days that Miss Stephie would give her time and effort to make my teary-eyed son smile…which in the end, put a bigger smile on my face. Thank GOD for his ANGELS:)

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